I have now been on sabbatical for two weeks. Actually, it seems like longer.
On Tuesday, September 11 I flew to Gardnerville, Nevada. My sister Darlene lives here with her husband (Wendell) and young son (Brice).
Gardnerville is right outside Lake Tahoe, and the area is FILLED with beautiful and amazing places to hike. Darlene offered to let me stay in their camping trailer, which would give me all the solitude I desired. Here is my home for the first month. To the right of the camper you will see a wildfire raging about 10 miles from our place. Thankfully, it was gone in two days.
Here is a picture of the lake itself.
The next day I decided to hike to two more lakes, Round Lake and Dardenelles Lake, seen here. This lake was much shallower, and consequently a little warmer. I had the whole lake to myself, and spent time in swimming, prayer and worship.
On Friday I needed a rest from hiking (my legs felt like lead, and I seemed to have a touch of tendinitis) and so spent most of the day with Brice, my nephew.
Saturday my leg was still giving me a bit of a problem so I decided to go and explore the Lake a bit instead of a long hike. I got to Sand Harbor before 9:00, and the only people around were some divers getting ready. The water that time of morning is very still; the wind doesn’t pick up till closer till noon. The stillness allowed me to see just how amazingly clear Lake Tahoe is.
After a while I did some exploring along the lakeshore. It felt great to be on my own and just to enjoy the lake.
I found a path to a little-used beach called Chimney Beach because, for some reason, it has a random chimney on the beach. Makes sense.
On Sunday I planned on going to the local Methodist Church. One of my desires is to experience the way that churches in other faith traditions than my own worship. However, my sister was sick, so I thought it would help her if I took Brice to their church so she could get some rest. The church is a non-denominational evangelical church with an emphasis on teaching. Sounds familiar. And it was. The pastor talked for almost 50 minutes, but was very solid in the way he handled the Word, which I respect above all things in a preacher. Wendall and I then took Brice up to the lake so Darlene cold get more rest.
Monday the 19th my legs felt good again, so I eyed a more ambitious hike. Thunder mountain is a 9400 foot peak, and so one of the tallest in the area. Thankfully, the trailhead starts at over 7000 feet. It took almost an hour to drive to the trailhead. By then it was still before 9:00, and was still nippy. The trail first begins to climb through a heavily wooded forest. After almost an hour of climbing you come to a ridge dominated by two outcroppings of volcanic rock called, “The Two Sentinels”.
Tuesday I needed rest. I began writing. I had actually been debating if I would write during the sabbatical. I was on two minds about it. On the one hand, the goal of the sabbatical was rest, not work. I loved hiking and being in God’s creation. On the other hand, I could not hike 24/7, and I had started a book project that I had only half-way completed. I would never again have this much time to see if I could conclude it. After a good deal of praying I seemed at peace with writing as long as I did not view it as something I HAD to do, or a burden of work. God seemed to give me direction by giving me great joy in the writing. I knocked out about 15 pages, which is about all I can expect out of one day.
(For those interested, the book is a debate about faith and the existence of God. It is mostly in dialogue form. If I finish it I will probably self-publish it, so that at least my kids will understand why I believe, or, rather, will understand what I think a rational faith in God looks like).
Wednesday I decided to make a little more ambitious hike. Mount Rose is the third highest peak in the Sierra Nevada range at 10,700 feet (only 200 feet lower than the highest). It sits between Lake Tahoe on the south and Reno on the north. The hike is a full ten miles and feels like twenty. This is because of the altitude. The air at the peak is one-third thinner than at sea level.
The hike starts out all nice and gentle, and even throws in a lovely waterfall about two miles in.
Friday Darlene and I took Brice up to the lake for a hike and spent the day there.
Saturday I took my longest hike yet: 15 miles, uphill both ways. Okay, it just felt that way. The hike starts by going past two lakes connected by a channel. The lakes are called lower echo and upper echo, and the latter is especially pretty.
The main trail continues to Lake Aloha, which is an odd name for a lakeshore almost void of plant life, let alone anything close to tropical. The lake has dozens (perhaps a hundred or so) small rocky islands. The lake sprawls for miles; this is just a sliver of it.
Sunday I was completely beat. I went to the Methodist church nearby. Major snooresville. Sorry my Methodist friends. Maybe it was me. Afterwards I wrote for a few hours and then caught a movie.
Monday the 25th (today) I stayed in my camper and wrote most of the day. I got over 20 pages knocked out, so was very happy.
That is my time so far.
30 years ago I spent the first of five summers in the Black Hills of South Dakota. It was hiking and wandering among the crooks and crags of that lovey place I learned to love nature. It was there I realized that it was by myself, in God’s creation, that I felt most serene, and closest to God. Spending these two weeks in the Sierra Nevada range has brought back these feelings to me. I have prayed much, worshipped much, and simply soaked in the beauty of His world. Though I miss my wife and kids greatly, I am so thankful for this time.